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Report: US detects shift in Chinese support for North Korea

New York Times reports Obama administration believes China changing position on Pyongyang, attempts to pressure Chinese president into cracking down on isolated regime

The White House is "detecting what it sees as a shift in decades of Chinese support for North Korea," the New York Times reported Saturday.  

 

According to the report, Washington and Beijing have recently been engaged in direct dialogue on the issue, including a phone call between US President Barack Obama and the new Chinese President, Xi Jinping, in which, according to the report, Obama urged his counterpart "to crack down on the regime in Pyongyang or face a heightened American military presence in its region."

 

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The US paper claims that after decades of almost blind support for Pyongyang the Chinese are becoming more tolerant towards Western anger at the rouge state.

 


אובמה לצד עמיתו הסיני שי ג'יפינג (צילום: AP)

Obama, Xi (Photo: AP)

 

A striking example was that despite Chinese mistrust of US military presence in the region, Beijing kept silent at the US's deployment of warships and fighter jets in the Korean Penenisula. A move which the paper contends "attests to both Beijing’s mounting frustration with the North and the recognition that its reflexive support for Pyongyang could strain its ties with Washington."

 

According to national security adviser, Tom Donilon, “the timing of this is important. It will be an important early exercise between the United States and China, early in the term of Xi Jinping and early in the second term of President Obama.”

 

In an interview with the paper, Donilon claimed that despite worries that Mr. Xi has been in office for only a short time and would therefore adhere to China's history of upsetting the US in its managing of relations with North Korea, the security advisor said he believed that China’s position was “evolving.”

 

In the upcoming weeks Washington is expected to send senior officials to pressure the Chinese government on the issue. The most prominent of these being Secretry of State John Kerry who is scheduled to arrive in China next week, followed a week later by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey. Donilon is expected to visit Bejing in May.

 

According to the report, Obama administration officials believe that Xi Jinping views his relation with the northern of the two Koreas in a more pragmatic manner in comparison to his processors.

 

Impending war?

China's Xinhua news agency on Friday quoted North Korea's Foreign Ministry as saying the issue was no longer whether a war would break out, but when.

 


שליט צפון קוריאה קים ג'ונג און עם קצינים בכירים (צילום: רויטרס)

Kim Jong-un with military leaders (Photo: Reuters)

 

Most countries saw the appeal to the missions as little more than strident rhetoric after weeks of threats to launch a nuclear strike on the United States and declarations of war against the South.

 

But Russia said it was "seriously studying" the request.

 

A South Korean government official expressed bewilderment.

 

"It's hard to define what is its real intention," said the official, who asked not to be identified. "But it might have intensified these threats to strengthen the regime internally or to respond to the international community."

 

The United Nations said its humanitarian workers remained active across North Korea. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, however, remained "deeply concerned" about tensions, heightened since the imposition of UN sanctions against the North for its third nuclear arms test last in February.

 

The appeal to diplomats followed news reports in the South that North Korea, under its 30-year-old leader Kim Jong-Un, had moved two medium-range missiles to a location on its east coast. That prompted the White House to say that Washington would "not be surprised" if the North staged another missile test.

 

Kim Jong-Un is the third member of his dynasty to rule North Korea. He took over in December 2011 after the death of his father, Kim Jong-Il, who staged confrontations with South Korea and the United States throughout his 17-year rule.

 

North Korea has always condemned the exercises held by US forces and their South Korean allies. But its comments have been especially vitriolic this year as the United States dispatched B-2 bombers from its home bases to stage mock runs.

 

Reuters contributed to this report

 

 

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פרסום ראשון: 04.06.13, 13:35
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